In Love & Rockets they called these boys polar bears, that always stuck with me: "So cuddly and cute in his cage, but when you want to get close enough to cuddle him, he tears you apart and swallows you whole." As here, the violence is (mostly) metaphorical -- Bunchy's too passive to do anything at all -- but the idea is the same: You will be pulled in by an addict or a person stuck at one point in time by their trauma, and by the time you realize what you're looking at and what you've walked into, you're done. Event horizon.
Nobody else is cute or cuddly -- I guess Terry is, but that's not his story at all -- and so you have this thing of watching Ray watch Bunchy being manipulated, and he has no choice but to also be manipulative, which is gross to watch. But not as gross as remembering that there's a third adult man in this relationship, being infantilized by all of this. Kept in his cage. It's like circumstances conspire to keep the abuse cycle going and everybody just babies him and he can't man up because that would let too much stuff in, but at the same time he is carrying everything for the rest of the family -- keep your eyes on him whenever Mickey and Ray interact; the visual is Terry's Parkinson's, the shaking, but the same shit is going on inside Bunchy, which is maybe worse -- and that part, they all let slide. It's easier for everybody (including Bunchy) to deal with Bunchy as an incomplete person, because he keeps the whole caravan going that way. God help us if he goes the way Bridget did. (Probably that's why she did it; the daughter always carries it -- if she exists -- but now that's on Bunchy too.)
Anyway, I love Bunchy even when he's in total junkie mode, because he's a polar bear: He's a boy and he's a grown man at the same time, and Mickey coming back into his life is giving him the right kind of anger and the right kind of responsibility to become a man if he can do it right, and he doesn't have any of the shit in line to do it right, so he's not going to. As a rape survivor they want us to love/pity him in this gross tragic way, but that's not remotely the actual tragic thing about him.
It's not the fact that some sad piece of crap pressed pause on his life: It's that he knows how to turn it back on, and he can't do it.
Is such a dreamboat, speaking of things that are awesome about this show. He is played by Frank Whaley, who wrote Pulp Fiction and is always lurking around whenever something awesome is going on, and he's the FBI agent who got Mickey out early, and is now stalking him, and has like all these mental problems and generally brings, like, feelings of Big Love to this show. I don't know how else to describe it. He's weird in that New Wave, Art Brut, Pee-Wee, Cyndi Lauper, post-punk, Gary Panter, LA Story way. Like watching David Lynch do the weather, but it actually holds your interest.